Marine police closed off the Sandbar in Cayman’s North Sound early Saturday morning due to a shipwreck that caused an oil spill, according to officials with the Department of Environment.
The 72-foot yacht – ‘Plight’ – registered out of Port Everglades, Florida was apparently trying to enter the North Sound through the narrow gap in the barrier reef along Grand Cayman’s north side overnight Thursday.
Department of Environment Chief Enforcement Officer Mark Orr said contracted clean up crews, as well as marine officers, spent most of the day Friday and were out again Saturday trying to clean up wreckage from the vessel, as well as floating oil from the accident.
“Sections of the boat are still on the reef and [marine crews] are breaking up pieces of the boat and taking them back to shore,” Mr. Orr said. “I’m picking up a lot of 4×4 pieces in other areas of the sound.’
Marine crews were concerned smaller floating pieces from the 72-foot wrecked craft could damage other craft travelling in the North Sound if they struck the debris.
Mr. Orr said some of the larger pieces of the wrecked yacht are being brought in to Harbour House Marina as clean up crews also attempt to recover the diesel fuel.
“There is some diesel spillage in the sound,” Mr. Orr said, but said he was unsure of the extent of the spill.
Two people who were on board the yacht had to be rescued during an overnight operation and were believed to be fine. Apparently, the boaters were attempting a trip from south Florida to Australia, Mr. Orr said.
Royal Cayman Islands Police Service Chief Inspector Raymond Christian said the yacht was carrying about 2,000 gallons of fuel when it crashed.
“They’re using a vessel from Harbour House Marina to pump off the fuel,” Mr. Christian said.
Chief Inspector Christian said the large craft had originally intended to stop in Cuba, but a strong nor’easter that blew through on Thursday night forced it to head for safety in Grand Cayman.
Mr. Christian said it appeared the yacht crashed into the North Sound barrier reef in between the North West Point channel and the Rum Point channel. He said marine police were still investigating the details of the crash.